This is an update to yesterday’s post that told the story of how our furnace went out, causing our pipes to freeze and then burst, resulting in two inches of water in our house on Lake Superior.

We have heat but no water. Well, we have water but it’s mostly in jugs. We have also melted two large pots of snow for various uses. The water situation affects daily living in a lot of ways. I will leave you to piece together the implications.

I will say this. Not having water quickly becomes a family secret. When we went to the hardware store on a different errand, my husband asked the owner, do you have water? The man started like he was going to go fetch him a cup. No, bottled water, gallons of water. Oh no, you have to go to the grocery for that. Who are these people in search of water? I swear, I could hear him thinking that and prayed a bit that we wouldn’t end up telling the whole story of the flood. There’s so much to explain and none of it makes us look very good.

The plumber came and so did the furnace man. The plumber fixed a broken pipe but unbeknownst to him, and to us until the water was turned back on ‘at the street’ as they say, he missed one. Now he is not answering his phone. We’ve left messages but there are limits to how pleading one can sound on the phone to a plumber especially when he is the only one within 50 miles. You don’t want to sound desperate. Sniveling. There is water and then there is pride.

Luckily for us there was an event in town. The UP 200 is a dog sled race from Marquette, Michigan, to our little town, Grand Marais, and back again. The town folk put on an all day soup and sandwich lunch at the community center, so, of course, we went. Plus there are bathrooms there which makes it a mecca although there are limits to what one can do in a community center bathroom when there is a line of women in musher or snowmobile gear. There is no reading going on in those stalls.

As luck would have it, so grateful to have soup, so excited to be warm near a bathroom, both my husband and I spilled our soup. Me on the floor where I mopped it up after a dignified looking man handed me a wad of napkins. And my husband down the inside of a woman’s down coat that was hanging on the back of her chair. It was potato soup he spilled. I thought for a while it might have been clam chowder but he says no, potato.

He dabbed at it with napkins, then her daughter joined in. Then the coat’s owner came back to her seat and started in. All the while, he kept talking. First with apologies and then with an endearing riff about how a waiter had once spilled soup on his mother’s coat (I think he made this up but I’m not sure). He re-enacted his look of horror at his mother’s rage at the waiter, clearly with the intent of blunting this woman’s unhappiness with the potato soup on her coat. To gain sympathy, we talked about the flood, how we had no water, and were there, eating across the table from them, after a string of improbable mishaps. It was no wonder we spilled on them. We were unlucky and cursed.

In normal times, it might have been mortifying. But no more. We have become our own rough people out here on Lake Superior. The people with no heat and no water. We are the heavily clothed and unclean who come to down, pretending to fit in, and spilling soup everywhere. We cannot change the facts. We can only apologize.

Our snow has melted now so we are going to take a bath.